Outgoing Houston Councilman Don Romines challenged the council Monday to continue to be forward thinking and move the community to great progress. The comments came as the mayor and colleagues honored him for his contributions to the city over more than three decades.

Romines, who was quick not to take the credit but share it with past councils over the years, said many positive things had occurred. Romines, who represented Ward III until his defeat April 5, highlighted some of the progress:

Outgoing Houston City Councilman Don Romines, Ward III, right, admires a plaque Monday given to him by Mayor Don Tottingham. Romines was honored by the council for his contributions after more than three decades on the council. 

Stalled off and on for years, the Houston Memorial Airport received a major upgrade that included a longer landing strip, a new maintenance facility was constructed on West Highway 17, city hall moved from Main Street to its present location on Oak Street and a new fire station was built nearby, where the city’s first aerial truck sits.

The city also constructed its first industrial park at North Industrial Drive and West Highway 17, streets like Thomasville Road, C.W. Harry and Holder Drive were expanded, allowing for new business development. An annual asphalt maintenance program continues today with Houston recognized as having the best streets in the region.

New departments were developed with a sole function: Parks and recreation, economic development and grant writing. Houston’s first city administrator was hired.

Infrastructure popped up while the city expanded its city limits to the north and south: A second water tank at the industrial park is joining one constructed on Forrest Drive, a pavilion was added at Pine Lawn Cemetery and at Emmett Kelly Park, a community storm shelter built, Rutherford Park joined the city’s parks system near the west side of the airport, water improvements allowed pressure to improve, two wastewater treatments were built in 1979 and 2010 and a 20-year effort to upgrade the city-owned electrical system was completed.

Romines said there is still much to be done and encouraged leaders to work hard to continue the path taken by past councils during his tenure. He said a strong financial position, jumping from about $100,000 in the late ’70s to about $4 million now — and the additional of sales taxes that had sunsets allowing residents to judge the progress before renewing— had allowed the city to leverage its position by obtaining numerous grants.

He’d ticked off several projects for future councils to study: Expanding the city limits in all four directions, rezoning some properties for highway business to spark development, combining the Houston Industrial Development Authority and Houston Development Co. organizations to create a job-seeking powerhouse, developing a business incubator to encourage young businesses at the former Lee plant, working toward higher education opportunities and creation of a sports complex.

“We need to be proactive and not reactive,” Romines said, noting the council should always seek new ideas and pursue funding opportunities. 

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